In which there’s some perspective.
Oil is in everything. Oil is in every single thing you ever use, touch, or buy.
How does food get to the store or farmer’s market? In trucks that are running on gas. How do you carry your food home? In plastic bags. How do you store your leftovers? In plastic containers in plastic fridge interiors sitting on linoleum, laminate wood, or carpeted floors, all three of which are petroleum products.
Your prescription lenses are a petroleum product, your window blinds are a petroleum product, your brassiere is a petroleum product, and every board and nail your house was built with were made with and transported to your property on equipments burning petroleum products.
Your toothbrush is a petroleum product, the materials used to make your shoes and coats are petroleum products, and the plastic clothes hangars in your front coat closet are petroleum products. Nearly all your personal care items are in plastic containers or contain petroleum products.
It’s easy to get mad about spills and pipelines and fracking, but we have to remember that “the fossil fuel industry” is us. If we’re sick of it, if we want it to change, then we have to change.
We have to demand wooden toothbrushes, woolen coats, fewer cars and more trains. We have to refuse to place every single piece of succulent produce we buy into a thin plastic bag we subsequently throw away. We have to be okay with things arriving at stores unwrapped and possibly in need of cleaning before we can utilize them. We have to bring our own containers for nearly everything, and we have to recycle the shit out of what’s left.
We have to demand less plastic in all packaging, from bed linen sets to hummus to children’s toys. We have to quit buying baggies and Tupperware and Saran wrap, and re-use the stuff we already have. We have to quit buying plastic plates and forks and Solo cups for BBQs and camping.
We have to quit buying disposable crap. We have to demand that our appliances be repairable, long-term investments, rather than engineered to fail in 18 months.
We have to buy fewer cell phones. We have to keep our computers longer. We have to walk more and drive less. We have to quit ordering take-out and eat in, on dishes, instead. We have to demand paper wrapping for our drive-thru foods.
We need to stop buying individual beverage servings; everything in those cold cases in gas stations has to stop. Buy fountain drinks only, in paper cups or a reusable container you brought with you, or STFU.
We absolutely must stop buying bottled water. There used to be drinking fountains all over the place. Bring them back.
We also have to be willing to accept things that aren’t quite as good. Wooden toothbrushes are porous and capable of harboring germs. Woolen coats aren’t waterproof and compared to modern synthetics are heavy and bulky. Paper bags fall apart in the rain. Leather shoes are cold and they leak. Real rubber degrades in sunlight. Shake shingles don’t last as long.
These massive oil spills are not just happening in a vacuum. The fossil fuel industry exists because we buy their wares, and we buy them all day long, every single day.
Americans consume petroleum products at a rate of three-and-a-half gallons of oil and more than 250 cubic feet of natural gas per day each.
Every latte lid, every drinking straw, every produce bag, every cell phone, every oscillating floor fan. Every quick little errand in the car, every elective surgery, every bottle of herbal supplements or tube of organic moisturizer.
Every plastic laundry basket, every pair of Fiskars, every casserole dish lid. Every bottle of liquid laundry or dish soap, every bottle of shampoo and conditioner, every shower shell, every vinyl floor tile, every set of speakers, every stick of deodorant. Every hand tool, every automobile, every plush toy, every microfiber throw, every Rubbermaid storage bin, every USB cable and extension cord and surge protector bar.
Even if you ride your bike to the greenhouse for a bouquet of fresh flowers, your bike was built with petroleum products and the greenhouse’s mulch and seeds were brought in on trucks.
Here is a picture of a long line of people standing on a beach protesting fossil fuels:
Swimwear and flipflops? Petroleum products. Lotions, sunglasses, SPF cream? Petroleum products. Ice chests and parasols? Beach towels and plastic zippers? Nylon rope, surf boards? All petroleum products.
Everything in your medicine cabinet and under your kitchen sink: petroleum products. The kiddie pool, the lawn hose, the patio furniture: petroleum products.
It’s not that I don’t think massive spills aren’t a problem. I do. But we need to change the market if we want to change big oil; there’s no other way to reduce these risks or to reduce or stop fracking.
Oil is in everything. You use three gallons a day just sitting on your [synthetic and therefore petroleum product-containing] couch doing nothing but looking at your petroleum product-containing TV, the channels of which you change with your petroleum product-containing remote. When you get up to have some eggs, you cook them in your petroleum product-containing pan, and top them with cheese that came out of a petroleum product-containing package. When you go to wash your plate, you use a kitchen sponge made of petroleum products.
“The fossil fuel industry” is us. If we’re sick of it, if we want it to change, then we have to change.